Scaling Academic Planning in Community College
A Randomized Controlled Trial
Community college students often lack an academic plan to guide their choice of coursework and achieve their education goals, in part because counseling departments typically lack the capacity to advise all students. This randomized controlled trial, conducted by Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) West at WestEd and MDRC, tested the impact of guaranteed access to either a group workshop or a one-on-one academic counseling session to help students prepare an academic plan, along with reminders to attend the sessions. Both interventions increased academic plan completion rates by more than 20 percentage points over completion rates for a control group that received neither guaranteed access to a counseling session nor ongoing electronic “nudges” to attend. Exploratory evidence suggests that workshop counseling is as effective as one-on-one counseling in getting students to complete the academic planning process. Workshop counseling was the most cost-effective counseling option based on completion rates of academic plans.